Union Monopolists Undermine New York Transportation Security
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a joint venture between the Empire and the Garden States, is charged with ensuring the safe operation of much of the transportation in the New York City region, including bridges, tunnels, airports and water ports. Most notably, as Judith Miller and Alex Armlovich of the Manhattan Institute explain in a new article for City Journal (see the link below to read the whole thing), the Port Authority is responsible for patrolling “the nation’s highest-value terrorist target: the 16-acre World Trade Center complex . . . .”
Unfortunately, according to Miller and Armlovich’s analysis, even though spending on security has skyrocketed since 9/11, the Port Authority does a remarkably poor job of keeping New York City safe. They quote a long-confidential 2011 report by Michael Chertoff, the former Homeland Security director who now heads a security-consulting firm. Chertoff concluded that the Port Authority’s security practices were “profoundly deficient at every level, in every key functional area.” And Miller and Armlovich cite ample evidence that things have not improved since.
The primary reason the Port Authority is still incapable of doing its job is the extensive legal monopoly-bargaining power government union bosses wield over roughly 5500 of its 7800 employees. Miller and Armlovich write:
An examination of the Port Authority police and its operations—including correspondence secured under the Freedom of Information Act, other independent reviews of police performance and compensation, and interviews with more than a dozen veteran counterterrorism experts, scholars, and law-enforcement officials—suggests that the Authority’s police remain poorly managed . . . and hamstrung by work rules. These rules, negotiated by the unions and accepted by Port Authority management, are a particular problem when it comes to security because they restrict the agency’s ability to deploy its police effectively.
A glaring example of how monopolistic unionism prevents the Port Authority from deploying its employees efficiently is overtime:
Overtime costs at the agency over the past seven years have averaged roughly $300,000 a day, $2 million a week, and more than $100 million a year . . . . City Journal’s Steven Malanga describes a typical example, culled from Open the Books data. Thanks largely to overtime sweeteners provided by the Port Authority, one police lieutenant who retired in 2013 with an annual salary of $129,000 began collecting the following year a lifetime pension of $172,000, or one-third above his base pay.
After overtime costs rose from $80 million in 2011 to $139 million in 2013, the Port Authority added roughly 450 officers to its workforce. The Port Authority Police Department overtime budget “was briefly curtailed in 2015 to 738,000 hours,” but the planned overtime budget for 2016 has risen to 1.04 million hours, “higher than in 2014, despite the employment of hundreds of new cops to ‘right-size’ the department.”
Even Big Labor politicians in New York and New Jersey recognize that government union bosses’ extortion of the commuters and businesses who pay the tolls and fees that maintain the Port Authority has done grave damage to the Big Apple’s job climate and stands to cause even more severe harm in the future. But stopping the shakedowns will require elimination, or at least a drastic rollback, of union monopoly bargaining at the Port Authority.
Given the enormous power union bosses wield over politicians in both major parties in New York and New Jersey, this won’t be easy. But the alternative for New York City is ever-accelerating economic decline.